HAMPDEN, Maine — Hampden’s five-month-long search for a person to replace Susan Lessard as town manager is still ongoing.
A regular council meeting Monday night was expected to produce a finalist and a vote to hire them, but a 90-minute executive session failed to come up with either. The rest of the council meeting did, however, produce ominous news about a potential mill rate increase.
“We reviewed a potential contract and there are still a few things for the council to work out with a potential finalist, but I am optimistic we will be able to vote on someone within a week,” said Mayor Janet Hughes, who said the council will meet with the finalist again this week. “I had maybe naively felt maybe we could get through those concerns, but there are still a few more things to hammer out.”
The search originally produced six candidates, which were narrowed to four interviews. Three candidates were given second interviews before the current finalist was chosen. Lessard, who gave her resignation notice in August, has agreed to stay on part-time until her replacement is hired. She has taken a job as Southwest Harbor’s finance director.
As part of the finance committee meeting held before the regular council meeting, councilors were briefed on a possible 3 percent increase in the current SAD 22 school budget, which would translate to about $250,000. Of that, Hampden would be responsible for 60 percent, or $157,500. That would compute to a mill rate increase of 26 cents, although the budget figures are still not final and subject to change.
Hampden’s council will begin working actively on the town budget during a major workshop in March.
Monday night’s council meeting began almost 40 minutes late as two councilors were absent due to knee surgery (Jeremy Williams) and a family emergency (Kristen Hornbrook), and the meeting was delayed to allow councilor and Rep. Andre Cushing, R-Hampden, time to drive up from Augusta to give the meeting a quorum with five councilors present.